WHAT DOES LAUGHTER DO FOR US?
Apart from feeling good when we laugh, it can actually improve your health and well-being. It has been found that laughter can actually kick out the stress hormones and aid your ability to combat or resist illness and disease through supporting the development of antibodies to fight infections. The good old happy hormones, endorphins, are released leading to you feeling good as well as giving a short term relief of pain. Hence me always telling hypnobirthing mums that giggles are good, though I do suggest to dads that they may not respond in a totally positive way to them telling a string of jokes that they consider funny.
Laughter also relaxes the body and improves blood flow, thereby helping cardiovascular function, with the positive affects lasting beyond the actual laughter. Laughing burns calories, though sadly, not as effectively as going to the gym!
Laughter can support teamwork, defuse conflict and support the development of relationships. At times of stress, laughter can lighten the atmosphere. At my father’s funeral, my son, then in his late teens, asked if he could talk about his grandad. He asked if it was ok to make people laugh. Absolutely as it was a celebration of my father’s life and the telling of the gentle, funny stories added a wonderful element to this.
There is nothing quite like the sound of children’s laughter to warm my soul – well apart from the sound of birds singing. I am writing this sitting outside in the sunshine and am chuckling at a pair of collared doves splashing around in the nearby base of my fountain. My favourite gold crests are tapping away at the mirror on my wall in their endless quest for insects to eat. There’s a robin happily hopping around and a pair of wood pigeons who are obviously feeling the joys of spring as they endeavour to mate on my roof. Not proving an easy task as they keep losing their footing when one gets over-enthusiastic, but they are either very persistent or very randy – or both!! These feathered friends are my cabaret as I write, leading to many smiles, and some chuckles too.
WHAT ELSE FLOATS MY LAUGHTER BOAT?
I feel far too relaxed and chilled to think of more serious stuff today, so join me in my meander around my personal amusement arcade.
Well, I actually don’t find too many of them actually lead to more than a smile. Having said that, I enjoy listening to Tim Minchin and Michael McIntyre. In fact, I started my day off with a chuckle listening to Michael this morning. I love the way he ‘spins a yarn’ – on the link, his yarn is about Argos and pregnancy!
Books and films
With books I tend to chuckle, though there have been times that I have laughed out loud at the way an author has made use of the written word. For the life of me, I can’t think of one off-hand, but doubt that you would have rushed over to Amazon and ordered on my say so. My choice of humour in films is quite gentle. I remember sitting and chuckling through ‘Paddington Bear’ and thoroughly enjoying the film. Escapism. Literally a couple of days later, my son asked if I would like to go to the cinema with him and my granddaughters. I jumped at the chance, only to find that they planned on going to see – yep - Paddington Bear. I didn’t tell them until we got there that I had (just) seen it. Apparently, the most amusing thing for my son was that I obviously remembered the funny bits and actually began chuckling just before the event. Do you mean that for once in my life I was ahead of the game???
I love the humour of children and how they belly laugh at not a lot, yet somehow, I end up joining in. Guess I always was a simple soul. Working with children for so many years led to many shared happy moments.
I took a class of children to visit a farm where they could see lambs, and for those who chose to (in fact, I think all but one) actually a lamb making its entrance to the world. It was a lovely afternoon. As we were getting back onto the bus, with children’s heads being carefully counted much like the ‘I counted them out, I counted them back’ scenario of the Falklands Conflict reporter, Brian Hanrahan (thanks be to Google as I couldn’t remember the guy’s name). He was reporting on the conflict, whilst being unable to actually give specific details for security reasons. So, I did a Brian, but paused as one young lady climbed aboard the coach. Her coat was suspiciously clutched and somewhat wriggling. On being asked what was going on, she opened her coat to reveal a lamb, being taken home as ‘it looked at her and she thought it was lonely.’ Obviously, the snatch had been made with no thought of long term consequences for the lamb, the farmer, her parents, or her bedroom where she apparently planned to keep it. We returned said lamb to the farmer and its mother. The child was despatched to the coach, then the farmer and myself burst into laughter. I managed to put on a suitably serious face when I returned to the coach.
It was the run up to Christmas, at this same school, so much card making was taking place, lots of coloured paper, and – of course – heaps of glitter. I was on playground duty. As I bent down to fasten a little one’s shoe lace, she began touching my hair and asked how had the glitter got in there. I said that the glitter fairy must have sprinkled it there. ‘Oh – and did she put the grey in there too?’ As I laughed, I simultaneously felt sorry for this particular child’s mother!
A different school saw a lot of laughter at my expense. Fortunately, something that has never bothered me. A young man, who was a friend of my son’s and knew me well had had a fall. We put a sling on his arm and off to the hospital with James sporting a very long face. We were waiting in A&E and I explained that I just had to go to the Ladies. A nurse said that she would sit with him whilst I went. When I got back, he was grinning from ear to ear. I thought the nurse must be better at cheering up children in pain that I obviously was. Wrong. He laughed as he pointed out that my dress was tucked into my knickers – well and truly rammed there, not just a bit caught. At least I had performed a good turn as, when I looked round the waiting room, there were a lot of poorly people who momentarily forgot how grotty they felt to join in the laughter. The staff offered me a job – never had they seen so many people in the waiting room so happy! I ‘suggested’ to James that maybe, when we got back to school, it could be our secret. Needless to say the word went round amongst staff and pupils alike. At great speed. Thanks James!!
On the subject of family, I have to mention my Aunty Hilda. A tiny dot of a lady with very high standards, and when she felt appropriate, a very posh voice to back these up. She bought a new suite and for a good three to four years kept the plastic coverings on it. When people got up, there was often the sound of flesh separating from plastic if the day was warm. She seemed completely oblivious to our discomfort. She also bought a new television. Her first colour one. Her main complaint – watching snooker on her new tv wasn’t half as good as watching it in black and white! I never could get my head around that but one didn’t argue with Aunty Hilda!
I often chuckle at some of the barmy things I do and ponder on why I started a job, what made me ‘volunteer’ to do something.
Many moons ago, I lived in Cyprus. Gorgeous. I was roped in to helping with a fund raising fete/fun day which saw locals allowed on to the base that was usually out of bounds to them. Each squadron, or unit ran a stall of some kind. Sadly, our guys had decided to make a dunk the dolly game – and, yes, you guessed it, I was one of said dollies. Come on, we are talking over 40 years ago here. Now, I have to say that I have never been flat chested. OK, let’s call a spade a spade, I was well endowed in the boob department even in those days. The locals seemed to appreciate this fact, and kept calling for me to get straight back on to the tipping platform each time I had been dunked. You would think that being dunked into a pool of cold water in Cyprus in the summer was no problem. Wrong. The guys had lined up the game so that the pool was shaded quite early, so it was actually a bit nippy, especially as my towel very quickly became sodden. A bottle of local brandy was produced and I was given a nip after each dunk. Miraculously, two dollies disappeared, leaving just two of us to be never endingly and unceremoniously dunked. Each time I clambered onto the platform, due to the hooch, it became more and more of a struggle. Each time I was tipped off, I sort of ended up sprawled in the water, coming up gasping for breath. This seemed to spur the local guys on even more as they got ever closer to the hole they had to kick the ball through, so there were fewer and fewer failures. This was compounded by poor construction, leading to a gradual eroding of the surrounding plywood, and a bigger target!!Even I could have scored a goal, though I doubt any of the guys would have volunteered to be my ‘dolly’! On reflection, it must have been quite a sight – a bedraggled, drunken, dunkin dolly. I do have the photographic evidence, but no, I chose not to head this blog with it …..There were lots of laughs. There was lots of money raised, so what did a complete disintegration of my dignity matter?
I shared another story about me recently getting in a pickle in a previous blog – the tale of the tomatoes. So I am still doing it! In fact, I see that as a positive as I am giving myself a valid reason to laugh, which can’t be bad.
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
Laughter is a great medicine, so endeavour to include it in part of your routine along with exercise, relaxation and healthy nutrition. Find the best way that this can work for you – laugh at yourself, don’t always take life and living too seriously. Laugh with others, your pets, at things that happen around you.
I did wonder about killing two birds with one stone by using laughter yoga but having looked at it on YouTube etc, it hasn’t led me to attempt to track down local classes. Having said that, research at Georgia State University found that simulated laughter can be as good for you as ‘the genuine article’ and that hearing others laugh, including if for no obvious reason, can lead to genuine laughter. So, maybe I need to have a re-think on this one! (Or not!)
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